What Is Insourced?
People (rightfully) want to know, what is “insourced”, I mean, it’s right there in our tagline, it should mean something, right?
And it does. Look, if it were in the dictionary it might look something like this:
As an accountant, my work is circumscribed by GAAP and other rule-making bodies, but I’m free to add words to the English language.
The Problem With Outsourcing
Over the past 8 years I’ve worked with many outsourced bookkeeping services, and I’ve worked for one. They have a very simplistic model, what they provide is generally considered glorified “write-up” work, that’s where an accountant comes in at the end of the year and records all the transactions after the fact. That’s not bookkeeping, that’s chasing the business’s tail. That’s not management, that’s reaching in from the outside and trying to make yourself relevant.
An in-house bookkeeper knows the business, knows the employees, has a rapport with them, fits into the office culture, knows the vendors and customers, and they, in turn, all know the bookkeeper.
The fact is, bookkeeping is so much more than merely recording transactions, paying bills, running payroll, collecting payment on invoices. This is especially true once an organization’s activities get more complex, when they have multiple programs they have to report on separately, when they have employees out in the field incurring expenses. In order to anticipate what’s going to happen, to understand what happened, to ask the right questions, the bookkeeper has to understand the activities as well as the executive director, almost.
To illustrate this point I’ll give one (of many) examples.
A few years ago a company that had been using an outsourced bookkeeping service for a few years came to us for budgeting services. I reviewed their books and saw that they weren’t in the best order, nothing horrendous, but not consistently clean enough for us to make forecasts based on them.
So we first had to clean up their books.
During our cleanup process we found some inconsistencies, which led us to investigate further, and that, in turn, led us to the discovery of around $80,000 that was owed to the business by a few clients who had never been invoiced.
The reason those clients hadn’t been invoiced, in short, came down to the fact that the outsourcing company was not intimately involved and familiar with the company’s operations and activities, they simply had a list of tasks to complete every week – which they did – but their setup and workflow made them incapable of thinking outside that list.
The Insourced Difference
It was experiences such as the one above that drove us to develop Insourced Bookkeeping. Insourced is different in both form and substance from its outdated counterpart.
Its unique form manifests itself in our utilization of our client’s bookkeeping email address for all communication – this has the benefit of keeping our interaction with our clients stakeholders smooth, no questions about “who are these inBooks people?” It also means our clients own the communication, not us. When they outgrow us and hire an in-house person, they step seamlessly into our shoes with no loss of history or hiccup in service.
Our phone system setup has the same benefits: we get no undue questions from those we call on our clients’ behalf, the client gets no interruption when we’re phased out.
Our exclusive use of cloud-based services means that our EDs, treasurers and auditors always have access to documents, books, payroll services, bill pay services etc. without ever having to ask us (although they’re certainly welcome to!).
But all that is only the technological integration. Our human integration goes even deeper: We attend clients’ board meetings to both learn about their activities and help them present their financials. We read everything our clients produce to keep abreast of their activities so that we can help lead them rather than being led by them, we attend their annual employee meetings to learn, teach and deepen our relationship with them. And most of all; we have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the ED or manager to review the budgets!
In conclusion, in form and substance insourcing is an entirely different model than outsourcing. It gives us access to wonderful clients we never could have known through the old method and it gives them access to higher levels of expertise at an earlier stage than they would otherwise at rates comparable to the average part-time full-charge bookkeeper.